Lt. Roman Ligsay already was feeling pressure to keep a close eye on his platoon in southern Afghanistan. Then a superior officer questioned why Ligsay’s soldiers had shot and killed a seemingly unarmed Afghan walking toward them along a highway.
By that point in January 2010, soldiers in Ligsay’s Stryker platoon from Joint Base Lewis-McChord already had shot and killed another young Afghan. They’d also developed a reputation for shooting weapons without cause.
“I was pretty worried,” Ligsay later told Army investigators, recalling his conversation with Capt. Matthew Quiggle moments after the highway shooting death. “We had a negligent discharge the night before and now my (company commander) is telling me that to him this didn’t seem like a threat.”
The shooting was one of several red flags that could have tipped off officers to misconduct in a group of soldiers trained at the base south of Tacoma who now stand accused of murdering three Afghan civilians.
In some cases, records show that officers did notice their soldiers’ unusual encounters with Afghans, but that any doubts and concerns were set aside.
The timeline raises questions about what punishment, if any, the officers in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division should face for missing the misconduct that took place under their watch.
Some officers have been reprimanded but remain in the Army. Ligsay was promoted to captain.
After the highway shooting that worried the lieutenant, soldiers searched the scene and uncovered a magazine from an AK-47 rifle near the Afghan’s body. That allayed concerns that the shooting was unjustified.
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